Yesterday afternoon, while I was washing dishes, Dizzle asked me a question completely out of the blue,
"How did your daddy die?"
It hit me like a ton of bricks. First of all, she had never asked me that question before and I didn't know how honest I wanted to be with the answer. And second, she asked on what would have been his 56th birthday, a fact she was completely unaware of.
I thought for a moment and decided to tell her the truth without giving any detail.
"He died of a heart attack."
Which of course, opened a can of worms.
"Well, what is a heart attack? How does that happen? Why did it happen to him? How old was he?
Trying to compose myself, I answered her questions.
"A heart attack is when your heart stops working. It happens for lots of reasons, sometimes doctors can get it to work again and sometimes they can't. They couldn't help my dad. The reason why is not important. It just happened. He was 46."
At some point, I was crying more than I was talking. I'm sure I was freaking her out. No, I know I was freaking her out. I could see it on her and her sisters' faces. I don't think that any of them had ever seen me cry for any reason other than physical pain. They didn't really know what to say.
Once I got it back together, I took Dizzle aside and tried to explain why I had gotten so upset, which, of course, caused more tears. I wanted her to know that I wasn't upset with her or her question. I wanted her to know that it's OK to be vulnerable. And I wanted her to understand why I was crying.
So, I told her the truth.
"Dizzle, I'm not upset. It's just that sometimes when you really miss someone it can make you cry. Not because you are mad or hurt, but because you are sad and you know that nothing you can do is going to change your situation. Imagine you were never able to see me or Daddy ever again. Wouldn't you want to cry about that? That's why I am crying."
And she, being wise beyond her years, said, "Well, but it gets better, right? You don't always cry. But, I bet Mimi's really sad too."
With a new onslaught of tears, I told her, "It's not that it gets better, it just changes. You always have a bit of sadness with you, but you learn to think less about the sadness and more about all of the happiness. But you always remember."
Then she started crying too. I just hugged her and told her I loved her, and that I always would.